Thursday, October 13, 2011


Are we determined to increase the amount of waste we are recycling and composting? Have we set a target and if we have what steps are we implementing to meet this target? What is happening to the municipal residual waste after the rest has been sent for recycling and composting. Is the Ministry formulating the most efficient and effective strategy for dealing with residual waste?

Until now, sending all residual waste to landfill has been the most common and short-cut practice. Short-cuts are not solutions. This has got to change. The whole world is doing its utmost to cut down on landfills. Historically, landfill has been the cheaper options but will not be so for much longer. We are a small country and waste management seems not to get priority attention, unlike say, the European Countries. I read that the European Landfill Directive has set very stringent targets to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill and failure to comply could potentially lead to severe European refraction fines. They have set targets that by 2010 bio-degradable municipal waste going to landfill must be 75% of 1995 levels, 50% by 2013, and 35% by 2020. DO WE EVEN HAVE THESE TARGETS?

Shouldn’t there be a strong environmental incentive to reduce land filled waste as landfill is a major contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, due to the methane rleased by decomposing waste.

Wouldn’t energy recovery technologies be the best alternative to landfills in terms of how we deal with residual waste?

Like always, Malaysia looks for the easiest way out of a problem. Our answer to energy recovery technologies is INCINERATION. We have some 5 or 6 incinerators and after spending millions, NONE are operating! Yes, NONE! And I am aware that the Selangor government did go to China to negotiate the possibility of having another incinerator to solve its waste management problems.

Incinerators do not provide a renewable source of energy through “capturing” the energy produced by burning waste. The incineration of recyclable material actually results in even more fossil fuel energy being consumed because more of the same materials will need to be used to replace them.

When waste is burned in an incinerator, heat is produced which can be used to create electricity. Proponents of “energy from waste” incinerators claim that electricity created when waste is burned is a type of renewable energy as it displaces the equivalent amount of electricity to be generated at a power station from fossil fuels. However the truth is that incineration actually INCREASES emission of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming compared to recycling. The incinerator will increase Co2 enormously! This means that energy from waste incinerators contribute to climate change rather than reducing it. Here is why!

I quote from “Sound Resources Management Group Inc.”

1. The level of energy “captured” in incinerators compared to the potential energy present in the waste is very low.

2. Incinerators burn fossil fuels when plastic is present in the waste stream, as plastic is made from oil.

3. When materials are destroyed in incinerators, new onces have to be made to replace them. The extraction and processing of virgin materials uses huge amounts of energy. E.g. creating a tone of aluminum cans, made from raw material bauxite, takes around fine times as much energy as producing a tone of recycled aluminum cans. A Canadian study estimated than “on average recycling saves three to five times as much energy as is produced by incerating municipal solid waste.”

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